COMMENT & ANALYSIS: the scale of cycling infrastructure London is probably not a million miles away from Dublin but — unlike Dublin — London is making more progress stitching together a network.
Like Dublin, the network in Dublin is still patchy at best. But London has edged ahead.
They have a mix of Cycle Super Highways (CS routes) and Quietways (Q routes), the former are generally but not always on main roads and the latter are on backstreets.
CS3, the east-west cross city route, between the Docklands and Hyde Park seems to be the longest, most continuous route of high-quality segregation.
CS3 is mainly a two-way cycle path along the embankment or close to it and then it routes past Big Ben and into Hyde Park.
With a few hours to burn and after leaving my bag at St Pancras, I rented a TLF Santander Cycle (the London version of DublinBikes) and started cycling on backstreets south towards the Embankment section of CS3.
While crossing Euston Road from St Pancras to the to the docking station, the first thing I noticed (beside the mad traffic on the main road) was an “except cyclists” sign beside the no entry sign.
Exceptions to no entry streets are all over the place and offer permeability and more importantly London is big on “filtered permeability”, with streets blocked off to rat running with bollards only allowing people walking and cycling past.
There was a good deal of filtered permeability just south of Euston Road and shortly I spotted Q2 and, looking at Route Plan Roll, I decided to cycle northeast on Q2 and back towards the embankment on CS1.
Here’s a rough outline of the route I cycled using an extract from the Route Plan Roll map:
(article continues below images)
Q2 is mostly impressive and has low-traffic but I cycled it at a quiet enough time and some bits were busy enough even then and would only get worse at rush hour. When it is properly “filtered” it’s a joy.
CS1 was mostly what I’d image to a poor quietway to be like — some nice bits but overall not a great feeling of safety as it’s too busy even in the mid afternoon.
Then my half-baked plan brought me to northern section of CS6, which is a mix of very heavy and then light segregation, some bits with parking inside the raised cycle track (which I’ve only ever seen in the Dutch town of Wassenaar).
This continues over south side of the city and links to CS3 — I cycled most of its length towards the docklands and the back to Hyde Park.
CS3 isn’t perfect, for a city’s main spine and flagship route — there’s some narrowness and small things like some sections with way too many traffic lights. But overall it’s a thing of beauty. A cycle route in the middle of a city which a five year old can safely cycle on.
People — from commuters to tourists to teenagers — fully segregated from the many large construction trucks and large buses on the road beside it.
London needs more of what it has and it is slowly building it (note: campaigners there also say progress is too slow and the mayor is not delivering fast enough, and only delivering sections).
Dublin can learn a lot of London’s lead — London proves that two-way cycle paths can be used as part of the mix (as too do the most cycling-friendly Dutch cities who continue to build such), and Quietways have a place as long as the will is there to filter out all but very local traffic or add segregation on sections where needed.
Dublin seemed to be ahead of London for some time but London is pulling ahead. As Dublin only now gears up to build cycle paths started to be planned the best part of a decade ago, the question is: can Dublin overtake London? Does it have the will? Can it work — like Dutch cities — without a directly elected mayor and make progress?
September subscription drive update: IrishCycle.com has reached its target of 270 subscribers by the end of August -- thank you to all who have helped! Our new target is to have 300 subscribers by the end of 2022 -- originally this was hoped to be exceeded by the first year of running the site full time (end of October), but this is unlikely and so the new target is the end of the year.
If you can help push IrishCycle.com above 300 subscribers, please subscribe today for €5 or more. If you have already done so -- thank you!
Please remember, every month there's a natural drop-off in subscriptions due to people getting new cards, cards stolen, Revolut not topped up etc.
IrishCycle.com is a reader-funded journalism publication. Effectively it's an online newspaper covering news and analyses of cycling and related issues, including cycle route designs, legal changes, and pollical and cultural issues.
There are examples, big and small, which show that the reader-funded or listener-funding model can work to support journalism -- from the Dublin Inquirer and The Guardian to many podcasts. To make it work for IrishCycle.com, it just needs enough people like you to believe!
Monthly subscriptions will give IrishCycle.com's journalism a dependable base of support. But please don't take free access for granted. Last year IrishCycle.com had an average of 15,800 readers per month and we know our readers include people who cycle and those who don't, politicians, officials and campaigners.
I know only a small percentage of readers will see the value of keeping this open enough to subscribe, that's the reality of the reader-funded model. But more support is needed to keep this show on the road.
The funding drive was started in November 2021 and, as of the start of June 2022, 250 readers have kindly become monthly subscribers -- thank you very much to all that have!
But currently, it's only around 1.6% of readers who subscribe. So, if you can, please join them and subscribe today via ko-fi.com/irishcycle/tiers